Sneaky Legs Calhoun and I were hitchhiking our way through the south in the early sixties when an elderly African-American gentleman in a beat-up old pick-up stopped to give us a lift.
“You boys makin’ your way ‘round the loop?’” he asked with a smile.
“Yes, Sir.” we responded in unison.
“Well, let me just tell you, I seen the loop from the backside.”
I didn’t know exactly what he meant by that at the time -but I do now.
We spend the first 69 years of our lives living our lives, and then, if we’re lucky, a light goes on in our heads at seventy, and we are able to understand what all the madness was about, record it for what it was worth, then focus on the end game with dignity, charity and humor.
Those of us lucky enough to have survived seven decades of living have an obligation to sound off on various issues of our times.
Our opinions and dispositions should be looked upon with a modicum of respect if only for the reason that we have managed to stay out of harm’s way all these 25,550 long and dangerous days, not to mention the view is exhilarating from this lofty perch.
So for what it’s worth, here are some suppositions that I have come to hold in private that I am now making public...
Capitalism: Capitalism is a noble idea until greed steps in and takes the matter off our hands. A “Let Them Eat Cake” attitude will invariably prevail unless we come up with a system to encourage equanimity. We could start with open primaries, repealing Citizens United, and promoting MOOCs.
The Constitution: Fine clothes, but tailored for a smaller person. Forget adjustments, what we need is a new tailor and a new suit.
Music: Please, Please, Please, (picture James Brown) bring back the melody. We all need music in our lives — music with harmony and melody.
Marriage: Make it harder to get married and easier to get divorced. A marriage, like a driver’s license, should be renewable every four years. “’Til death do us part” was appropriate when our life expectancy was 45 years, but in the 21st century we’re outliving that liability. (I’m blessed with a good woman.)
Parenting: The most important responsibility we will ever be granted. To fail in this obligation is tragic, to succeed, triumphant.
Religion: That there is a “greater force” there can be no doubt. What we call that greater force, and how we worship it, is irrelevant.
Abortion: Abortion is a women’s issue, no, a woman’s issue. We men should gracefully, as the saying is, butt-out.
Gambling: Don’t gamble. But if you do gamble, don’t split your tens.
Smoking: Don’t smoke. But if you do smoke, try to complete your contribution to society before you reach 70.
Drinking: Stay sociably and comfortably below .08.
Guns: “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” But remember, we’re all good guys — until we’re not.
Adolescence: Teenagers should be conscripted into the Peace Corps for one year and then be given every consideration to travel free during their 19th year. As Mark Twain reminds us, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.”
Sport: Gifted professional athletes keep smiles on our faces. We love watching them do things we cannot do. So please show us fewer free-throws. At 70, I can shoot free-throws. I don’t want to watch millionaires shoot free-throws and miss.
Love: Man’s best instinct will eventually prevail and save this sordid world. No man has ever been shot while doing dishes with his wife.
There it is, I have fulfilled my obligation as a septuagenarian to chronicle my opinions on a few issues of the day.
I’m getting shorter now. I suppose I’ll be needing one of those bumper seats soon when I go out to eat. But hey, we’re playing with house money, Honey, so let it roll.
— Read more about McAvoy Layne at www.ghostoftwain.com.